When colourful Luton tattoo artist Richard Burley died suddenly last year after suffering a heart attack, his staff were devastated.
Natalie Rolls, who starting working with him at Adrenalin Tattoos in Cheapside after dropping out of uni, says: “It shocked everyone and our world came crashing down.
“Richard touched so many people’s hearts. He was one in a million, a kind and generous man who would give away his last pound.
“There was a silver mannequin outside the shop and he was known as the man with the elephant tattoo – he had it in a certain place and he wasn’t shy to show it.
“He took me under his wing and taught me everything he knew, including a 3D technique for tattooing areolas on men and women who’d lost their nipples, usually to cancer. We met so many lovely people through that, and helped so many too.
“We even had referrals from Harley Streey and were about to get involved with Bupa when Richard died.” Natalie, now 35, was determined to carry on his legacy and employ her colleagues, who’d all lost their jobs.
“I’d saved a little money over the years,” she explains. “And with a little help from my family I started looking for empty shops. I knew if I found the perfect spot, me and the staff could start anew.” And that’s exactly what she’s done, at 50 Park Street. And she’s called the new business Adrenalin Park, in honour of the man who was her guide and mentor.
“The team is back,” she smiles. “Minus the main man but he’s there in spirit every day,
“The studio has a vintage feel to it and customers comment on how nice and clean it looks and how friendly everyone is.”
The former Luton Sixth Form College student, who boasts 15 tattoos of her own, is a qualified laser removal technician and employs four tattooists, two receptionists and a body piercer.
She admits they’re all covered in inkings – “some random, some planned” – and adds: “I’m also continuing the 3D areola work with Marcin, the tattooist Richard trusted most. That sort of knowledge is like Mama’s secret sauce.”
> For more details call 01582 484777.